Painting Paradise

“You have your brush, you have your colours, you paint the paradise, then in you go.” Nikos Kazantzakis

Organizing an event of any kind, large or small brings with it a number of considerations, not the least of which is where to find the money to fund it. In my paradise (as it pertains to organizing the Whistler Writers Festival, and the Writer in Residence and the Author in Schools Programs) funders come onboard and give generously because they believe in our cause, see our need and want us to succeed.

As you have probably deduced, I’m a dreamer.

January of each year begins with writing grants, compiling lists of potential business donors, discussing strategies, populating countless spreadsheets and writing plans that realistically outline how much we’re going to need, where it’s going to come from and what benefits the community will realize.

Despite the reams of documents we prepare, there are no guarantees we’ll get any money. This year we saw funding cuts from two of our major sources. One had funded us to the same maximum amount for years. This year they cut us back.

What happened?

No, we’d done nothing wrong. Each funder said. “Funds are shrinking and more groups are applying. We want to spread our resources to more organizations.”

I wanted to say, but we’re a proven entity. We complete evaluations and final reports. We know our programs make a difference, more importantly you know they make a difference. You’ve seen it for yourselves. Our programs are worthwhile. Please don’t do this.

But I didn’t say any of these things. Instead, I thanked them for their support. And started thinking about where I was going to make up the shortfall. I’d already invited several authors, organized venues, made commitments. The program had been juggled into submission. There was no going back. Money had to be found.

Plan B saw us make more cold calls to potential sponsors. Most listened politely, a few offered suggestions to secure funds from others. Some gave generously. I felt as though a few boulders had been taken off my shoulders. I was ecstatic and grateful.

Others didn’t bother returning our phone calls. I get that. It’s not easy to deliver bad news, but still I’d like to hear it anyway because it allows me to close a door, suppress my insatiable need to hope.

Hoping and dreaming seem to go hand in hand. And believe me, I curse this dual affliction of mine at times.

Then out of the blue, I received a phone call from a grant provider. We didn’t think we would qualify for this particular grant this year, but applied anyway (forever the dreamer). And in fact, we were told initially, we did not receive the grant. Okay, a door had closed. No problem. Onto plan C.

But this week that grant decision was reversed.

Why? I asked. I know I should have thanked the person and my lucky stars and anyone out there watching out for the little festival that could. But I couldn’t help myself. A bit weepy, I asked again. Why?

“Because it’s a worthwhile cause. Your group does a great deal for this community. Those efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed. We want to support what you do.”

They understood our goals and wanted to help. It’s these peeks at paradise that allow me to remain a hopeful dreamer. What’s wrong with that?

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